Apple on October 13, 2020 introduced its newest flagship iPhones, the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 mini, which offer powerful features at an affordable price tag. Sold alongside the more expensive iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max, the iPhone 12 and 12 mini are ideal for anyone who doesn’t need Pro camera features.
The 6.1-inch iPhone 12 is a successor to the iPhone 11, while the 5.4-inch iPhone 12 is an all-new size and marks the smallest iPhone Apple has introduced since the 2016 iPhone SE. Aside from screen size and battery size, the two phones are technically identical. With its small size, the iPhone 12 mini will be ideal for those who prefer an iPhone that can be used one-handed.
All iPhone models this year feature Super Retina XDR OLED displays for the first time, with an edge-to-edge design with the exception of the Face ID notch and small bezels around the edge. There’s no difference in display quality between the standard iPhone 12 models and the Pro models.
The 5.4-inch iPhone 12 mini has a resolution of 2430 x 1080 with 476 pixels per inch and the 6.1-inch iPhone 12 has a resolution of 2532 x 1170 with 460 pixels per inch. The displays offer HDR support with 1200 nits peak brightness, Wide Color for vivid, true-to-life colors, Haptic Touch for feedback, and True Tone to match the color temperature of the display to the ambient lighting for a more natural viewing experience.
Apple overhauled the design of the iPhone 12 lineup this year, introducing flat edges that are a departure from the rounded edges of prior models and are similar in design to the iPad Pro. The front of the iPhone is protected by a new Ceramic Shield cover that replaces the standard cover glass. Apple says the Ceramic Shield is infused with nano-ceramic crystals and offers 4x better drop performance.
The back of the iPhone continues to be made from glass, with the two halves of the device sandwiching an aerospace-grade aluminum enclosure that comes in five colors: blue, green, black, white, and (PRODUCT)RED. Like the iPhone 12 Pro models, the iPhone 12 models offer IP68 water and dust resistance and can hold up to submersion in 6 meters of water for up to 30 minutes.
All of the iPhone 12 models in this year’s lineup support 5G connectivity for faster downloads and uploads, better quality video streaming, improved gaming, and higher-definition 1080p FaceTime calls. 5G coverage is available worldwide, but only iPhone 12 devices sold in the United States support mmWave 5G, which is the fastest 5G technology available.
iPhone 12 models sold in other countries are limited to the slower but more widely available Sub-6GHz 5G connectivity. In the U.S., 5G speeds can be as high as 4Gbps, even in highly populated areas.
Gigabit LTE is supported when 5G isn’t available, and to preserve battery life when using 5G, a Smart Data Mode reverts to an LTE connection when 5G speeds aren’t necessary.
The iPhone 12 and 12 mini support WiFi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0, plus they include a U1 Ultra Wideband chip for spatial awareness and interactivity with other devices that include the U1 feature such as the HomePod mini.
There’s a new A14 chip inside the iPhone 12 models, and it is the first chip in the smartphone industry built on a 5-nanometer process for performance and efficiency improvements. Apple says the 6-core CPU and 4-core GPU in the A14 are 50 percent faster than the fastest competing smartphone chips. The A14 chip includes a 16-core Neural Engine that offers an 80 percent increase in performance for machine learning tasks.
The iPhone 12 and 12 mini are similar to the Pro models in most respects, but the camera is a major differentiating factor. While the Pro models include a triple-lens camera setup with a LiDAR Scanner and other bells and whistles, the iPhone 12 and 12 mini have a simpler and less advanced dual-lens camera setup.
That said, there are still significant camera improvements in the new iPhone 12 models compared to the iPhone 11. There’s an f/2.4 Ultra Wide camera and a Wide camera that has a new f/1.6 aperture that lets in 27 percent more light for better performance in low-light conditions along with 2x optical zoom and 5x digital zoom.
The A14 chip powers new computational photography features with better than ever Deep Fusion for improved photos with more texture and less noise, and improved Night mode with better contrast in images. There’s a Smart HDR 3 feature that adjusts the white balance, contrast, texture, and saturation in photos for more natural-looking images.
Like the iPhone 12 Pro models, the iPhone 12 models can capture 30fps HDR video with Dolby Vision, enabling cinema-grade videos to be captured, edited, and shared right on the iPhone. It also supports 4K video recording at up to 60fps. There’s improved cinematic video stabilization and a Night mode Time-Lapse feature, along with Dolby Vision selfie videos using the TrueDepth camera.
Speaking of the TrueDepth camera, it continues to enable the Face ID facial recognition biometric authentication feature in the iPhone, and it offers a 12-megapixel selfie camera. The selfie camera now supports Smart HDR 3, Deep Fusion, Night mode, and Night mode Portrait shots.
When it comes to battery life, the iPhone 12 offers up to 17 hours of video playback, 11 hours of streaming video playback, or 65 hours of audio playback. The iPhone 12 mini offers up to 15 hours of video playback, 10 hours of streaming video playback, or 50 hours of audio playback.
Both of the new iPhones offer fast charging, which provides a 50 percent charge in 30 minutes using a 20W power adapter.
Alongside the iPhone 12 models, Apple introduced MagSafe accessories designed to work with a ring of magnets built into the back of the iPhones. There’s a MagSafe charger, MagSafe iPhone cases, and wallet accessories. MagSafe supports 15W wireless charging, an upgrade over the 7.5W charging available through standard Qi-based wireless chargers. The iPhone 12 models can also be charged using the Lightning port, which is unchanged.
Apple eliminated the power adapter and EarPods from the iPhone 12 box, and these accessories must be purchased separately. All iPhone models now ship with a USB-C to Lightning cable by default, with Apple doing away with the USB-A version.
Apple is selling the iPhone 12 and 12 mini alongside the iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max, more expensive iPhone models that have stainless steel bodies and more advanced camera technology. More info on the iPhone 12 Pro lineup can be found in our iPhone 12 Pro roundup.
Note: See an error in this roundup or want to offer feedback? Send us an email here.